Italy and Portugal on collision course in World Cup playoffs

The last two European champions, Italy and Portugal, could face each other for a spot at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after they were drawn in the same path for the playoffs in Zurich on Friday.

The 12 teams – 10 of which finished runners-up in their groups – were split into three four-team paths, each with its own semifinals and final. Seeded teams were guaranteed a home game in the semifinals.

The winning team from each path qualifies for the World Cup in Qatar, meaning Italy and Portugal cannot both reach the tournament.

READ: Who have qualified, who are in play-offs, all you need to know about play-off draws

Italy, who won the Euros earlier this year, and 2016 European champions Portugal will play their semi-final games at home against North Macedonia and Turkey, respectively.

Should the two heavyweights advance, Portugal will have home advantage in the final.

Failure to advance would be a major blow for four-times World Cup winners Italy, who did not qualify for the 2018 edition — the first time they missed out on qualification in 60 years.

Wales, who are looking to reach their first World Cup in 64 years, were drawn in the same path as Scotland, who have not qualified since 1998.

The semifinals and finals will be played from March 24-29.


Path A

Semi-final 1: Scotland vs Ukraine

Semi-final 2: Wales vs Austria

Path B

Semi-final 3: Russia vs Poland

Semi-final 4: Sweden vs Czech Republic

Path C

Semi-final 5: Italy vs North Macedonia

Semi-final 6: Portugal vs Turkey

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